Re: Obaseki’s ‘controversial’ legacy
BY CRUSOE OSAGIE
It is curious to see that a piece in a newspaper attempting to describe the legacies of the Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki will almost entirely base their judgement on the failure of the Federal Government to fix their roads that transverse Edo State.
It is even more disturbing that the author never took the rigour and time to investigate the underbelly of the issue. The Federal Government has failed to allow anyone to fix these roads and is unable to do it themselves, leaving the roads in deplorable condition, forcing heavy-duty vehicles that traditionally used these federal roads for interstate transportation to now resort to state roads, which were not initially designed to handle such tonnage, placing an immense burden on the State roads.
Instead of thoroughly analyzing and addressing these facts so that the responsible parties can adjust adequately and deal with the issues, the author chose to scapegoat His Excellency, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, denigrating all infrastructural development efforts by the Governor over the past seven years that have continued to positively impact on the lives of the people.
Even though the author, in the 10-paragraph piece, agreed that the roads were owned by the Federal Government, he somehow believes that it is Governor Obaseki’s lot if the roads are not fixed. This is quite unfortunate.
There’s no gainsaying that the governor is sustaining efforts to overhaul the State’s road infrastructure, open up new towns and enhance access to rural areas, in line with his government’s urban renewal vision.
Obaseki, as an investment banker, understands the primacy of road infrastructure to economic development, which is why he has prioritized road construction and has continuously called on the federal government to undertake the repairs of their roads, part of the reason why they are entitled to over 52 percent of the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) receipts.
It is, however, unfortunate that the Federal Government has neither heeded the numerous calls to fix these roads nor allowed the State government to intervene, making them nearly impassable. The governor has however continued to move against the odds and has now begun efforts to carry out palliative work on a few of the federal roads like the Benin-Sapele Road, Benin-Agbor Road, among others.
As for the so-called challenge by the opposition party in the State to name roads that have been constructed since the governor came to power in 2016, which we have only come to know, ‘mysteriously,’ from this piece, let me provide a useful insight. It is on record that the state government under the leadership of Governor Obaseki has built over 1,500 roads, which stretch for about 2500km across the State’s three Senatorial Districts. Some of these roads include construction of Irhirhi-Aruogba-Obazagbon-Obagienevbosa-Ogheghe Road which spurs to Enogie Palace and Ogbekpen Community (Rubber Research); construction of Lucky Way, Benin City; Mission Road, Anegbette; Iyegbepue – Iyeremhe Road, Jattu; Irhue-Oke Uhiere Road off Benin-Ekpoma Road, Uhunmwode (Phase 1-4); Uwessan -Ujagbhole-Irrua, (Phase 1-6); Ugboshi- Afe Road, Off Igarra Ibillo Express Way; Benin-Abraka Expressway (Phase I), among others.
It is also necessary to state that the governor’s legacy extends beyond road infrastructure. His administration has in the past seven years embarked on bold and transformative reforms and projects, achieving milestones in various sectors of the State’s economy, including education, healthcare, job creation, industrialization and economic development, among others. These reforms and programmes have continued to translate to better livelihoods for the people and economic prosperity for the State, attracting national and global recognition.
From retooling the civil service to become more responsive and private-sector facing; to creating a new vista of economic opportunities with the Benin Port Project after breaking a 75-year-old jinx; to seeing to the development of two refinery projects in the State; to reforming the basic education sector; to providing electricity to power industries and government establishments; to unlocking the potentials of Edo youths in technology, building and cultivating the largest oil palm development in Africa, among others, Obaseki has written his name in gold in the annals of Edo’s history and his legacies cannot be erased.
In the terse write-up, the author also attempted to disparage the governor’s ingenious efforts at achieving a cleaner and greener State and ensuring environmental sustainability by encouraging parents to plant trees to mark their children’s birth anniversaries.
One would wonder why someone will perceive such a noble effort as a distraction when in the real sense it is a proactive move towards securing a sustainable future for the State. It is important to emphasize that environmental sustainability is a fundamental aspect of governance, impacting on the health, livelihoods and quality of life of citizens and therefore efforts such as those by Governor Obaseki to promote environmental sustainability should receive praise and recognition by all and sundry.
Let me end this piece by reaffirming the undeniable: Governor Obaseki is a performer. He has in the past seven years journeyed an arduous path to reinvent Edo State which is visible in the big, bold projects that dot every nook and cranny of the State. His legacies cannot be blemished. Edo people know the truth and will continue to love and support their performing governor in his vision of placing the State on the path of sustainable and accelerated development.
Osagie is the Special Adviser to the Edo State Governor on Media Projects.